NGO Report: Palestinian Children Kept in Outdoor Cages

Ramle Prison (photo: Nir Keidar)

Ramle Prison (photo: Nir Keidar)

Earlier this week, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) published a report that claimed children suspected of minor crimes were subjected to a variety of human rights abuses, including threats and acts of sexual violence and “public caging”, in which minors were held for extended periods of time in outdoor cages.

According to a group of public defenders making an official visit to Ramle prison, children were caged outside and exposed to severely cold weather during Israel’s recent winter storm. In a statement to the Israel Prison Service (IPS), the lawyers reported that “they spent several hours in the freezing cold and rain, until the transport arrived to take them to court around 6:00 am.”  The statement said that the practice had been going on for months, a fact “verified during other official visits and not denied by IPS.”

I read a number of news reports on the incident, and was particularly struck by this one from the Jerusalem Post (pay particular attention to the second paragraph):

The practice of placing the children in outdoor cages was halted when Justice Minister Tzipi Livni learned of it and immediately telephoned Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, telling him to end the practice…

It was unclear who within the Prisons Service initiated the practice, why it was initiated or who decided to continue it despite the adverse weather conditions, but the service responded that since it had received criticism the situation had been improved.

Livni’s attempts at fig-leaf PR notwithstanding, the issue of child detention issue far transcends this one particularly horrifying revelation. Last March, I reported on a UNICEF report that concluded the ill-treatment of Palestinian minors held within the Israeli military detention system is “widespread, systematic and institutionalized.” The 22 page report carefully examined the Israeli military court system for holding Palestinian children and found evidence of “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.”

A Huffington Post feature on the report noted:

In a step-by-step analysis of the procedure from arrest to trial, the report said the common experience of many children was being “aggressively awakened in the middle of the night by many armed soldiers and being forcibly brought to an interrogation centre tied and blindfolded, sleep deprived and in a state of extreme fear.”

Many were subjected to ill-treatment during the journey, with some suffering physical or verbal abuse, being painfully restrained or forced to lie on the floor of a vehicle for a transfer process of between one hour and one day.

In some cases, they suffered prolonged exposure to the elements and a lack of water, food or access to a toilet.

During my recent visit to the West Bank, our delegation spoke with Gerard Horton (formerly of Defence of Children International – Palestine and currently founder/director of Military Court Watch), who described for us this process in shocking detail. Much of what he had to tell us can be found in his article on the subject here.

As a Jew and a human being of conscience, I am sickened by Israel’s practice of child detention. Please join me in contacting Tzipi Livni (zlivni@knesset.gov.il) to tell her you agree – to let her know this is not a problem that cannot be solved with one face-saving phone call.


6 Comments on “NGO Report: Palestinian Children Kept in Outdoor Cages”

  1. Lisa K says:

    Thank you, Brant. And in addition to the wonderful links in your article, check out this new & amazing website and “Like” them on Facebook: Room No. 4 http://www.roomno4.org/en/gallery/

    ROOM NO. 4 is an interrogation room in the Russian Compound – the main Israeli police office in Jerusalem – where Palestinian children are investigated.

    ROOM NO. 4 photography campaign illustrates the reality the children face when arrested and detained, and is based on children’s testimonies collected by Madaa Center. All the names of the children have been modified to ensure their protection.

  2. Ilene Carson says:

    Torture and keeping children in cages. Human beings with even a shred of morality could never fathom using this kind of abuse on living thing. Israel has gone to new highs in their Human Rights Abuses. The world community has to band together to stop this insanity.The Israeli government has much to answer to the Hunam rights groups for their blatant disregard and need to be taken to task. This has nothing to with what your religious beliefs but using humiliation torture and abuse to control a whole population.

    • Howard Gordon says:

      Ilene….why is it that you believe this fairy tale?…..look at where these charges come from…it’s just the usual poisonous anti Semitic bile…

      • Vicky says:

        Howard, the IPS itself has admitted doing this and there are no shortage of soldier testimonies detailing these and worse abuses, if you can’t bring yourself to believe Palestinian children or monitoring organisations such as Defence for Children International. It’s no fairytale. But at least calling it a fairytale is better than the usual excuses saying the kids deserved it.

  3. lydia Karoum says:

    Thank you Brant for continuing to disseminate these human rights abuses. When even powerless children are the victims, the occupiers show their total lack of humanity.

  4. […] He meets Australian lawyer Gerard Horton, who’s trying to help the boys who are arrested, and talks to senior Israeli officials to examine what’s driving the army’s strategy. http://rt.com/news/israel-children-torture-palestine-044/ http://rabbibrant.com/2014/01/03/ngo-report-palestinian-children-kept-in-outdoor-cages/ […]


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